Tim Burton is back behind the camera with “Alice in Wonderland”. I was pretty amped to see this film for a few reasons: it’s been a while since I’ve seen a Tim Burton film, I enjoy his dark worlds, and it’s Alice in f-ing Wonderland. The Wonderland world is straight up Burton’s alley in regard to darkness and twisted things. As for what I thought of the actual film, I was a bit underwhelmed. Really the only element that puts this at an above average rating for me is the visuals. This is a gorgeous film. The acting is fine, with a standout performance by Helena Bonham Carter, but the characters are rather tame compared to the book. The story is fairly meh, and did little to grab me.
I don’t need to say much about the directing, Burton did his usual thing, and I dug it. As for the visuals, as I said, this film is gorgeous and a whole lot of fun to look at for the nearly two hour run time. Having not seen it in 3D I can’t comment on that element, but being that I was left unsatisfied by the “Avatar” 3D, perhaps I would have felt similar with this one. I’ve heard this film referred to as “a painting come to life”, and I couldn’t agree more with that assessment. Not having a great deal of knowledge on the art end of things, I can’t say a great deal more on this topic but I enjoyed it, it worked and was a lot of fun.
The acting was solid. After all, we’re dealing with Burton’s usual professionals here. Depp does well in the kooky role of Mad Hatter, but had only a few really funny moments to show for it. The role truly worthy of mention, though, is Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. She cracked me up every time she opened her mouth. She employed a speech impediment echoing the priest in “The Princess Bride”, and I thought it worked wonderfully. Every time she dropped her ‘R’ I about lost it.
I mentioned I found the characters to be surprisingly tame. I’ll be the first to admit the characters in the books are so outrageous it must be difficult to match them on film, but here they did little to impress me. Not all that could have been done with the characters was done, and that’s a disappointment to me.
The story, really, is a combination of Lewis Carroll’s books, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, “Through the Looking Glass”, and a poem titled “Jabberwocky.” Having read “…Wonderland” and “…Looking Glass” I imagined that between these three stories there would have been enough good material to turn out a truly compelling tale for Alice to trek through. However, it falls rather short. I found myself not caring much for Alice’s adventure. Simply, I wasn’t pulled in and I hate when that happens. I don’t hate the film, or even dislike it, but I was left unsatisfied. And again, had the great visuals not saved the day I’m not sure I’d recommend this film for viewing.